Monday’s Rasmussen poll which found its respondents preferring a hypothetical “Tea Party” third-party candidate over a generic Republican by a 23 percent to 18 percent count has stirred up a good deal of discussion, particularly within conservative circles, this week.
A pair of articles today do a particularly good job of capturing some of the debate among those on the Right. At BigGovernment.com, Stephen Green has a thoughtful – and quite funny – piece which makes the point that in the perception of a good deal of the country, there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats inside the Beltway – and the true divide in this country is between the “Snobs” on the inside and the “Slobs” everywhere else. As such, Green says a third party isn’t really a third party but a second party.
But at the American Thinker, Lee Cary seeks to quell some of the third-party talk with a bit of Realpolitik. Cary says Libertarians need to stop trying to nominate hopeless presidential candidates, pick a major party nearest to their philosophy and seek to influence that party. Cary quotes the libertarian platform:
We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.
We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.
Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.
With those as First Principles, it’s almost impossible to imagine Libertarians migrating to the Democrats. That leaves them, and many other independents (“Tea Partiers” in particular) who feel that both parties are currently lost to special interests, irresponsible and bloated government and crooked politicians, little choice but to hold their noses and dive in to the Republican pool.
At the end of the day, the disaffected would-be Republicans out there need to make a choice – do you want to bitch, or do you want to win? If you want to bitch, by all means have yourself a third party. There is a group here in Louisiana which is starting up a Conservative Party, and they’re great folks who are taking great positions. The Tea Party groups here locally in Baton Rouge did a sensational job in beating back an awful $900 million bond issue by a 65-35 count despite being outspent 50-1 by the insider interests, and they’re in a movement which steadfastly refuses to affiliate with a political party. The Constitution Party is well worth looking into; its platform is a well-written, well-reasoned and highly attractive basis from which positive change might come.
All of those are great groups. And the bigger they get, the more likely it is that the Democrats will win every election that matters in the future.
The fact is, despite how utterly Marxist and statist and tyrannical the Democrats are they have enough entrenched constituencies that they’re never going to get less than 35-40 percent of the vote in the worst of circumstances. And if the Democrats pull 40 percent, either the GOP or whichever entity becomes the third party is going to have to die – or else the Democrats win. We don’t work on a parliamentary system, and our federal elections don’t work on the basis of a general election runoff in the vast majority of cases. So any party which sits at 35-40 percent as its base of support, like the Democrats have right now, is the default winner of every election against a divided opposition.
Do the Democrats deserve 35-40 percent of the vote? Absolutely not. The Democrat Party has been completely taken over by dyed-in-the-wool leftists, and there is no restraint of government control over the lives of the American people in any part of its leaders’ minds. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Howard Dean and Barack Obama represent a Left in this country far more radical, redistributionist and tyrannical than anything the American people have ever seen, and the reaction of the country has been pronounced.
Virtually everyone, even and perhaps especially on the left, understands that the Democrats are going to pay a steep price in next year’s elections for an overreach this year which proves they’re out of touch with the American people. And Gallup found in a poll a few weeks back that the country breaks down into a 40 percent conservative, 36 percent moderate and 20 percent liberal spectrum. That means that the Democrats are out of touch with about 40-45 percent of their own voters and virtually everyone else in their orientation – we see this in virtually every congressional vote when some 50-60 “Blue Dog” Democrats are put in a terrible position of having to vote against their constituents or face the wrath of Nancy Pelosi. That’s a center which cannot hold.
Of course, the GOP is in terrible shape right now. As unpopular and out-to-lunch as the Democrats are, you’d think the Republicans would be in a great position to capitalize, and the generic congressional ballots do indicate that the American people will certainly give the party another look. This is a center-right country and most Republican (or at least conservative) positions are more representative of the overall populace than those of the Democrats. But the GOP brand is still painfully tarnished, and the party’s establishment is generally held in disdain even by its own base – though with Dick Cheney’s approval rating climbing to 39 percent in Gallup’s poll on Monday he’s no longer the “toxic” figure the Democrats made him out to be and according to a Politico piece today, a hypothetical presidential preference poll only has Obama beating the hated George W. Bush by a 50-44 count.
The point being, there’s a great opportunity out there and the opposition to the people in control has not been properly organized.
This is not completely unusual in the aftermath of a disastrous election like the Republicans had in 2008 (and in 2006, for that matter). The party is still trying to redefine itself and come up with a winning formula, and that’s exactly what off-years are for. But the message the American people are giving the GOP, one which it’s not completely clear that the party has digested yet, is that while it expects them to stop the worst of Obama’s abuses, like Cap and Trade and Obamacare, the stimulus and the off-the-charts spending, that’s not enough to put them back in power. The public rejects the “compassionate conservative” approach that Bush presented for eight years and wants to see another Reagan emerge.
This accounts, incidentally, for why Sarah Palin’s approval numbers are within a point of Obama’s; Palin has a lot of charisma and the American people do not appreciate the hysterical and scurrillous treatment she has been given from the blue-bloods in the media and chattering classes on both sides of the political aisle. So she’s going to have more support than somebody like Katie Couric or Thomas Frank (or David Brooks) will give her credit for. But Palin also has a decidedly thin resume and while she is without question getting markedly sharper and more polished as time goes by, as evidenced by recent TV appearances and the consistent string of well-crafted Facebook communiques – not to mention the very good piece in the Washington Post she wrote this morning, which has more than one left-wing blogger foaming at the mouth about its publication. – the people aren’t sold on her as a presidential candidate yet.
What they like about Palin is her message. Palin sounds like Reagan did. She’s not polished like Reagan was, but Reagan came from a Hollywood background and he also had a good two decades on the national scene on Palin when he was elected. But the message – small government, letting the air out of idiot elites, national defense, American pride, personal responsibility and liberty and low taxation – is very similar, and people like it.
The problem is, too many of the Republican hoi-polloi in Washington and New York don’t like it. These are the people whose lives center around which fancy cocktail parties they can get invited to and who have become very comfortable with the idea of being “dhimmi Republicans” who must watch what they say lest they become ostracized by all the right people. When a David Brooks calls Palin a “joke,” it’s less an expression of personal disregard than an attempt to please his left-wing friends at the New York Times with how objective and open-minded he is for a conservative. And it’s the installation of these sycophantic, me-too groupthinkers – the most obnoxious dorks from the College Republican milk-and-cookies mixers who resurface 25 years later as the people who are supposed to save us from the Alinskyites – atop the totem pole which is the real problem. Green is right – when you take the College Republican dork and make him Our Man In Washington, you get Lindsey Graham, and that’s not what conservatives want.
But the problem is, at the end of the day the College Republican dork is the only thing standing between you and Chuck Schumer. The College Republican dork gets off on the idea of finally being in charge of something, just like Schumer does. But as noxious, shameless, disingenuous and disgusting as Schumer might be, he’s a forceful and articulate advocate of beliefs he holds at his core. Schumer is a first-stringer; he’s as talented as you’ll get from a political persuasion disproportionately populated by ambulance chasers, union goons, sociologists, public school teachers, environmental busybodies, militant atheists and people who get offended if you don’t complement them on their unusual choice of sexual persuasions.
The College Republican dork isn’t a first-stringer. He’s just the best guy we could find to run. Most conservatives are involved in providing goods and services people actually want within the private sector, wouldn’t put their families through the ringer of a political campaign for any conceivable reward and regard the idea of having the kind of control over one’s fellow man that politicians deal in as, at best, mildly nauseating. That’s your explanation for the fact that despite a 2-to-1 numerical advantage conservatives have over left-wingers there are probably 50-52 dyed-in-the-wool Marxists in the Senate and a good 175 of them in the House – not to mention the kid who followed Frank Marshall Davis around the brothels of Honolulu, now in the White House.
The answer? If you don’t like the College Republican dork and you’re not satisfied with his inability to articulate conservatism with force and verve, then run against him in the primary. Or get your hands dirty and be a precinct captain. Go raise money for candidates who are actually worthwhile. Start a blog. Go to meetings and raise hell.
But do what you do not just to make yourself feel better – have a plan and a purpose.
If you want to bitch, then bitch. Right now, it’s a good time to bitch; there won’t be elections for the better part of a year. But by the spring and the summer, the time for bitching will be over. At that point, it’s going to be time to win.
In 2004, the Democrats were completely spent as a political entity. They had run a moribund, repulsive pantywaist of a candidate for president and were soundly drubbed as a result. That party had been run into the ground by a cabal of nominal centrist wannabes left over from the Clinton years and in the aftermath of Bush’s beatdown of Kerry there were serious Beltway types questioning whether the sun was setting for them.
But by 2006, the Democrats were resurgent.
And it wasn’t the Clinton leftovers leading the resurgence. It was the hard-left Soros stooges from MoveOn.org and SEIU and ACORN. It was Howard Dean as the DNC chair, Rahm Emanuel (who was a Clinton minion, but much more of an Alinsky disciple from the start) running the DCCC and, ultimately, Obama as the 2008 candidate. That party moved hard left, it found money and energy and it created a coherent, if disastrous, message that its adherents could get excited about. Those are the people running the country right now, and the American people are in a state of panic as a result.
So why can’t the Tea Party people and the conservative independents who have had enough of the played-out Republican elites do the exact same thing to the GOP that the Soros mob did to the ruined Democrats in 2005?
It’s quite obvious that the muckety-mucks currently running the Republican Party are terrified of that happening; just look at their reaction to the Doug Hoffman/NY-23 situation and the backstabbing of Palin we hear over and over again. That whimpering isn’t about the fear of lost elections; it’s about the fear of lost relevance and broken rice bowls on their parts.
Those who bemoan the loss of a reviled, toxic and discredited Arlen Specter to the Democrats, for example, and complain about a “shrinking party” are by no means pursuing victory. They preach a “big tent” philosophy that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of the philosophy to which they supposedly (fraudulently) adhere; conservatism properly purveyed is a magnet for the American people. Reagan proved that. The New York Times doesn’t like the idea, but the American people can’t stand the New York Times.
They’re not worried about being driven out of the party – nobody is trying to drive them out of the GOP. They don’t care about the GOP. Colin Powell has spent the last decade trashing the Republican Party as intolerant, pseudo-fascist and non-inclusive, and then when the party nominated precisely the centrist “big tent” Republican he purported to advocate as its candidate in last year’s election he turned his coat and endorsed Obama at a strategic time.
What they want is to control the party, and while they’re more than happy to get in bed with Democrats they’re perfectly fine with the idea of sabotaging their competitors within the GOP.
So be it. Let’s have that fight. As H.L. Mencken said, “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.” The anger and indignation is there, as is the common enemy and, most of all, the opportunity. And with the GOP practically in receivership, the vehicle.
So let’s hoist that flag and draw the daggers and run the second-stringers out of the power positions in the Republican party. Do that, and the route is open to bring back the America the majority of us have loved and lost.